Hand Drum -> Bluetooth Speaker ?
November 12, 2020 9:04 PM   Subscribe

I have a small hand drum with such a quiet sound that someone at an outdoor drum circle once (jokingly?) asked me if I was playing a "silent drum". I have a powerful bluetooth speaker (with both bluetooth and stereo 1/8" in) that could very decently amplify the sound. What are my best options for implementing this, for the least amount of money?

I am thinking something along the lines of contact mic to portable preamp with bluetooth out, but maybe I would need a separate preamp and bluetooth transmitter (I have an old Fiio bluetooth transmitter with 1/8" stereo in that might do the trick)? I'm not looking for pro-quality necessarily, as this is just for having fun and making my instrument a little more discernible amidst the sometimes thunderous racket, but nor do I want the cheapest and most-likely-to-break-down-options either. Thanks for all your suggestions!
posted by tenderly to Technology (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
You probably don't want to use Bluetooth due to the latency. It can be as low as 34ms, which would still be annoying to someone with a good sense of rhythm but can be 100-300ms, which would get scowls of "why is that jerk always off beat" from people around you.
posted by Candleman at 4:12 AM on November 13 [5 favorites]


Seconding: Bluetooth is usable for midi and pre-recorded audio, but not this type of live play. The lag is large, variable and unstable, and even a novice would find it unpleasant, especially on a drum.

Sound travels about a foot per ms, so imagine trying to play with a copy of yourself that jumps randomly between 50 and 300 ft away, every second.

That said: does your speaker have aux in eg via 3.5 mm jack? Many do, and it would be fine to physically plug your contact mic into a pre-amp and then into the speaker.
posted by SaltySalticid at 4:51 AM on November 13 [3 favorites]


does your speaker have aux in eg via 3.5 mm jack? Many do, and it would be fine to physically plug your contact mic into a pre-amp and then into the speaker.

Yes, it does! Any suggestions as to which mics/portable preamp(s) would be most suitable for this sort of thing?
posted by tenderly at 8:23 AM on November 13


What kind of a drum is it? What's the head made of, and how is it attached? My guess is that changes to the physical structure of the instrument itself will be both cheaper and easier than trying to amplify it. A higher tension/thinner drum head (swap out synthetic for natural skin head?) would be one avenue to explore. Of course that will change the quality of the sound not just volume.
posted by dr. boludo at 9:38 AM on November 13


What kind of a drum is it? What's the head made of, and how is it attached?

Well, it's not actually a drum with a skin (or even synthetic) "head," but an arched metallic form that I play as a drum. So quiet it shall remain, sans amplification.
posted by tenderly at 10:08 AM on November 13 [1 favorite]


Are you willing to carry an additional power source or does the speaker by any chance supply power out over USB (some do)?

If you need easy battery power and portability, something like The Dude mixer may work, but I don't know if 20db gain is enough for the kind of mic you need, and it's a bit pricey, though you can use it for other instruments or a little drum machine etc too.

If you don't mind a battery pack or can get USB power out of the speaker this Behringer< USB interface may work, you'd plug the speaker into the headphone/monitor port. And it supplies phantom power which expands your options for mics. But I'm not sure what it does if it's not plugged in to a computer, it could/should work fine but you'd want to carefully read the manual before buying.

I get why you want to play this particular drum through a speaker but I see this easily costing $100+ if you want to do it well and you have to buy new. Though I'd be happy to be wrong about that, that would also buy a fun (imo) good loud used drum. I will be interested to see any mic suggestions too; good luck!
posted by SaltySalticid at 1:36 PM on November 13


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